Residents sue president of condo community
Article Courtesy of COURIER-POST
Published September 29, 2006  

Legal wranglings have once again hit the massive Kings Grant development, as a class-action lawsuit by one community's residents led a judge to freeze that community's funds on Wednesday.

Residents accuse the president of the condo community, Oak Hollow, of running a dictatorship without elections, threatening political opponents by telling them they would "end up in the Delaware River" and declaring himself a member of the "Mexican Mafia," according to the suit filed by Paul Leodori, who represents 37 of the community's 276 residents.

The suit accuses Oak Hollow president Michael Meglino of vandalizing residents' properties, taking kick-backs from contractors and redirecting thousands of dollars for personal use, like vacations.

Meglino, along with the community's board members and other co-defendants, could not be reached for comment.

But an attorney representing Meglino's wife, Susan, and SGM Construction, denied any misappropriation of funds. In the suit, SGM is accused of accepting funds from Oak Hollow and then repaying that money to Meglino.

"My clients are going to dispute those facts vigorously because the business that was done with the condominium association was fully disclosed to the board, approved by the board and all construction work was done at fair market value," attorney Nick Harbist said.

The suit, however, says residents were bilked for thousands of dollars in illegal maintenance and administration fees, and the community is now in debt.

A hearing is scheduled Thursday before Superior Court Judge Ronald E. Bookbinder in Burlington County to determine if a receiver will be appointed to oversee the community's finances.

Residents interviewed said they cannot run for seats on the board, and when they challenge its authority they face intimidation and threats.

Donna Plante said two days after asking tough questions about the association's finances at a recent board meeting, she got a violation letter for having lights hanging on her patio even though others have similar lights.

"We have to volunteer to shovel sidewalks," she said. "We pay more and seem to get less."

Residents say they pay nearly $200 a month in association fees and have paid $1,000 for roof repairs that were never done.

"A lot of people have wanted to do something for a very long time," said Stacy Shenker, a resident.

Kings Grant is one of the largest developments in the state, with administration and maintenance handled by a mish-mash of quasi-governmental bodies that have been the source of frustration for some residents.

Three of the 25 communities at Kings Grant, including Oak Hollow, seceded from the Kings Grant Maintenance Association and established their own associations after a 2001 state Supreme Court ruling said one authority didn't have the powers to govern the finances of individual communities.